New PDF release: A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

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By Doris G. Bargen

During this sophisticated and hugely unique studying of Murasaki Shikibu's eleventh-century vintage the story of Genji (Genji monogatari), Doris G. Bargen explores the function of owning spirits (mono no ke) from a feminine perspective. in different key episodes of the Genji, Heian noblewomen (or their mediums) tremble, communicate in unusual voices, and tear their hair and garments whereas less than the spell of mono no ke. For literary critics, Genji, the male protagonist, is crucial to opting for the function of those spirits. From this male-centered standpoint, woman jealousy offers a handy cause of the emergence of mono no ke in the polygynous marital procedure of the Heian aristocracy. but this traditional view fails take into consideration the work's lady authorship and its mostly girl viewers. depending upon anthropological in addition to literary facts, Doris G. Bargen foregrounds the factors of the possessed personality and found mono no ke in the politics of Heian society, analyzing spirit ownership as a feminine method followed to counter male options of empowerment. Possessions turn into "performances" by means of ladies trying to redress the stability of energy; they subtly subvert the constitution of domination and considerably regulate the development of gender.

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Extra resources for A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji

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116 To be more precise, they have adopted the perspective of Genji, the most prominent spectator. The danger of this commitment should be immediately apparent. Genji never pretends to be an unbiased observer (as the critic should be); he is an emotionally involved participant in the performance. His preoccupation with identifying the possessing spirit has led critics to be as preoccupied as he is, but Genji’s identification of the mono no ke is important only to the extent that it reveals Genji’s involved assessment of the phenomenon.

115 Suffice it 26 A Woman’s Weapon to say here that Genji characters vary both in their conceptualization of mono no ke and in their skepticism. In short, we can resolve with certainty neither the question of Murasaki Shikibu’s private beliefs nor that of the Heian audience’s beliefs. What we can do, however, is retrace the author’s literary process in constructing mono no ke. Surely it is no accident that she repeatedly situates the phenomenon of spirit possession at crucial moments in her narrative and elaborates on variations of the phenomenon with a psychological complexity and sophistication unprecedented in her day.

By the mid-Heian period, when all manner of spirits were rampant, religious exorcisms associated with Shinto were performed by Buddhist priests, contrary to earlier Buddhist doctrine. Underlining this syncretism, William H. ”84 The story of the brilliant scholar-statesman Sugawara Michizane (845–903) exemplifies the curious blend of culturally diverse beliefs about the spirit world. As the ambassador to China, he was well versed in Chinese learning. He was also resented by his rivals from the Fujiwara clan for his superior influence at the Heian court.

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A Woman's Weapon: Spirit Possession in the Tale of Genji by Doris G. Bargen


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